If we only read Moses, David, Solomon and Plato, we would have an education that rivaled history’s greatest scholars. However, the efficiency of instruction desired to make as many wise students as possible is not to be found among the early masters. Moses left us the Law. David left us the Psalms. Solomon left us the Proverbs. Plato added his dialogues. Unfathomable wisdom is to be enjoyed in them all, but very few would possess the time and leisure to swallow and digest their teachings in a manner that led to a well-ordered mind.
To meet the challenge of instruction and efficiency, God raised up for us Aristotle, who was taught by Plato. “The Philosopher”, as St. Thomas calls him, did the work of organization for us. His works provide the textbooks for much of the classical liberal arts curriculum, summarizing and systematizing for us the wisdom of the ancient world. Aristotle’s works include:
- The Organon (Reasoning)
- The Art of Rhetoric
- Physics (Natural Philosophy)
- Metaphysics (Sacred Philosophy)
- Ethics (Moral Philosophy)
When we add to these the Arithmetic of Nicomachus, the Geometry of Euclid and Astronomical works of Ptolemy, we possess the full canon of classical liberal arts textbooks. Because these authors merely summarized and systematized the wisdom of the ancient world, their works are timeless and irreplaceable in classical education. Attempts to redesign or improve fail to demonstrate any advantage and often proceed from an intent to tacitly disapprove of the original authors rather than promote sound philosophical studies. Rarely has a Catholic author judged it necessary to alter or replace the classical authors with books of their own, which should reveal something about the theological, philosophical and financial motives of those that do.
If you loook through the Curriculum pages of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy website, you will find that these classical textbooks are the sources for our online courses. We don’t talk about “classical education” and then study modern books. When we say “classical education”, we mean real classical education.
God bless your studies,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Source: William C. Michael, Understanding Classical Catholic Education.